The God-moment when you realize who you are talking to

“‘I know that Messiah is coming. When He comes, He will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.'” (John 4:25-26)

You were discussing God to someone casually,  in theory, having a nice little conversation.  Then all of a sudden you realize the Person you are talking with is the Lord Himself.

Nothing prepares you for such a moment.

1st instance in Scripture.  John 4 where Jesus informs the “woman at the well” of His true identity.  Give her credit, because she hastened back into her village and told everyone.  “Is not this the Christ?”  The Lord and HIs disciples ended up conducting a two day crusade (of a sort) there, with many more people believing on Jesus.

I imagine she never talked to a stranger in the same way again.

You never know.  Hebrews 13:2 tells us not to forget to entertain strangers since some who did  ended up giving hospitality to angels.  That may be  a reference to Genesis 18-19.  But who’s to say it couldn’t happen to us, today, right here?

2nd instance in Scripture.  Matthew 26 where our Lord is on trial before the Sanhedrin, the high priest, Pilate, Herod, and Pilate again.

The high priest was irritable at having been called out of bed so early.  He lost his patience with this Man who stood before him  refusing to answer even the first question.

The religious leader bellowed at Jesus standing there in silence.   “Do you answer nothing? Aren’t you going to respond to what these men are saying against you?”

And once again, Jesus kept silent.

The high priest was ready to tear his hair out.  He exploded.  “I put you under oath by the living God!  Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God!”

That’s when Jesus said, “It is as you say.”  (Matthew 26:62-64)  (Translators and interpreters have fallen all over themselves trying  to put into English the impact of Jesus’ words.  ‘You said it.’  ‘I am He.’  My favorite would be a simple, ‘You got it!’ or “Yep. That’s me.”  Anyway!)

When that high priest stands at the Judgement Bar one day–as he shall!–he will learn the truth of the prophecy, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone” (Psalm 118:22) and find it has his name all over it. .

(You and I will be nearby, awaiting our turn.  Let us be faithful today, friend.)

A God moment. Finding out that the one you are talking to is the one you were talking  about.

I’ve been racking my brain and combing my files in search of similar instances.  I thought of Pat Conroy, who told us his story  at a book-signing in New Orleans just  a year or two before his death.  And I thought of Leslie Massey’s  story which I first heard ten years ago and which I asked her to repeat today.

Novelist Pat Conroy was in Cleveland, Ohio.

He had a little time on his hand and was walking around Cleveland’s downtown when he came upon a lovely little bookstore and went inside.  As he browsed the aisles, he called over to the clerk, “Do you have any books by South Carolina authors?”  The clerk said, “Do people in South Carolina write books?”  As the famous author absorbed that slight, a customer on the other side of the store called, “Pat Conroy is from South Carolina!”

Now, Conroy  faced a dilemma.  Should he go over and introduce himself to the customer and tell her he was Pat Conroy?  Why not, he decided.  It was a fun moment. The two had a nice visit, they laughed at some South Carolina connections, did the Shag (a local dance), and he left the store.

As he walked down the block, the clerk came running up to him.  “That was shameless!” she said.  “What was?” Conroy  said.   “Telling that woman you are Pat Conroy!  You’re no more than I am.  I know Pat Conroy and you are definitely not him.”

We all laughed. What a moment.

As he was signing my book, I said, “Did you straighten that clerk out on your identity?”  He said, “No, it would have embarrassed her. And besides, it makes a better story this way, don’t you think?”  (That’s a novelist for you–always interested in what makes “a better story.”)

Leslie Massey is a church librarian.

Leslie is a church library specialist of the highest order.  For years, she wrote material for church media centers and curricula for children’s ministries which would involve the church library’s resources.  She and her husband are precious friends.

Here’s her story.

Their church had just brought on staff a new children’s minister, a single young woman fresh from seminary.  Along with the rest of the church, Leslie welcomed her and offered to get with her at her convenience to share what the church library was doing in the children’s ministry.  “I don’t have time right now,” the woman said, “but I’ll let you know.”

Leslie explains that once a month, the children’s Sunday School classes would be brought into  the church library for a feature concerning some Biblical character they were studying.  It was a major project with a long history for which Leslie and her team devoted much time and effort to doing well.

The young minister–we’ll call her Mary–had been on staff for two weeks when the monthly excursion of the children to the library took place.  That’s when the confrontation occurred.

The children were just arriving, accompanied by their teachers and workers.  “What is this?” Mary demanded to know. “What’s going on here? Why aren’t these children in their classrooms?”

Leslie explained that the monthly trip to the church library was a feature of their children’s ministry, that the children loved it, and that it was well planned and well presented.  “We will not be doing that any more!” she said.  “I won’t allow it. It’s unsafe.”

No amount of reasoning with Mary got through.  She was adamant. She was in charge and she made sure everyone knew that. She ordered the children to return to their classrooms.  The teachers, of course, had nothing prepared since they had planned for the library presentation.  The children were disappointed and several were in tears.

That week, Leslie visited with Mary in her office.  She tried to assure the new children’s minister that the library staff would be happy to assist her in her work, that all they wanted to do was reinforce the work of the Lord, to help the children to grow, to know how to use the library, etc etc.

Mary kept shaking her head ‘no.’  She admitted she had never been in a church with a library and saw no need for one.  This would never do.

Then Mary admitted something to Leslie.

“I follow the lesson programming of an author I admire very much.  You may have heard of her.  Her name is Leslie Summers.  She is wonderful.”

Leslie was stunned.  She could hardly believe her ears.

“Mary,” she said softly.  “I am Leslie Summers.”

“Summers was my name before my marriage to Mr. Massey.  I write under that name.  I wrote the material you appreciate so much.”

It was a coming of age moment for Mary.  Mary, you may be interested to know,  decided before long that she had no aptitude for being a children’s minister and soon married and became a homemaker.  I trust she has learned what a valuable friend her church library can be.

Humility is always in order, isn’t it?

 

 

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